NFL players will have the opportunity to demonstrate media literacy during the workshop
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Jason Kelce has stood out as one of the NFL’s best offensive linemen for his ability to quickly adjust blocking schemes and make split-second decisions to ensure his quarterback has a clean pocket.
The Philadelphia Eagles Center has found that translating this to a TV or radio audience is harder than it appears.
Kelce was one of 25 current and former players who attended the league’s Broadcasting and Media Workshop last week, formerly known as the Broadcast Bootcamp.
The event took place for the 16th time. For the past two years it has been held at the NFL Media headquarters, which opened in 2021 and is just 30 meters from SoFi Stadium, home of the Rams and Chargers.
“This is all new territory for me. I have even more respect for it now,” Kelce said. “It’s very hard to do something live, to respond to stimuli that just happened and to say something smart and meaningful.”
The three-day session allows participants to announce a game on radio or television and work in the studio as an analyst.
Nine of last year’s 24 participants worked in some media capacity. The two biggest names were Richard Sherman, who was part of the pre- and post-game coverage on Amazon Prime Video’s “Thursday Night Football” season one, and Jason McCourty, an analyst for Westwood One Radio and co-host at NFL Networks ” Good Morning Football”.
Tracy Perlman, the NFL’s senior vice president of player operations, said there are always surprises about who applies, but some of their personalities emerge during the process.
“Some of them come here because they are unsure if they want to be in the media. But they get a full experience and see that there are many opportunities to be in the media,” she said. “Boys are looking for what they’re going to do in their transition from gaming. And they want to be close to football.”
Changes in the program, including smaller classes and more one-on-one coaching, have made it a more valuable experience. This year the participants were allowed to announce a game twice on television. Podcasting and social media were also increasingly brought into focus.
Each contestant completed a 10-minute portion of the first half of last season’s Indianapolis Colts vs. Minnesota Vikings game during the television analyst portion. After receiving feedback from directors at Fox and NBC, they returned and did another 10-minute segment from later in the game.
“I think every time you see automatic improvements and how much more comfortable they are. There’s a lot of little things they need to learn, even though they know the game, how to fit their thoughts in between snaps as best they can,” Fox play-by-play announcer Chris Myers told The Part of TV was sessions. “They’re going to pick the best, but they also have to play to what’s on the monitor and what people at home are seeing on the replays. And they have to have a little bit of personality.”
Kelce also said the other tricky thing might be remembering how to pronounce a person’s name correctly.
“It’s a lot easier if you’re sitting on the couch or have heard the name over and over again. Certainly some of the names are hard to remember locally,” Kelce said.
While Kelce, entering his 13th season with the Eagles, considers moving into broadcast later, opportunities could be immediate for Ndamukong Suh and Ryan Shazier.
Suh, a 13-year NFL veteran, is evaluating all of his options for the upcoming season after being signed midseason by the Eagles last year.
“It was a great experience to dive into this one and put myself in an awkward position to see what it’s going to be like,” Suh said of the workshop. The biggest thing I learned probably came from (NFL Network reporter) Steve Wyche. He told my group that mental stamina will be the biggest thing here. Not only do you have to study different things you might encounter while calling a game, but also give some perspective. If you don’t have a strong mental ability to retain lots of information, it can be very difficult to be successful.”
Shazier, the former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker who suffered a career-ending spinal injury in 2017, is known to most fans for his inspirational comeback from the injury that briefly paralyzed him. But Shazier has been working as a college football analyst and hosting his podcast for the past few seasons.
Aside from receiving more coaching during the sessions, Shazier said he’s been interested in learning more about media from his time in Ohio State.
“It’s been great talking to the different networks and understanding their perspective compared to the perspective of the hometown where I live,” he said. “All of these things can help you improve, and I’m always trying to learn.”
While Kelce will soon be training with the Eagles offseason, after the draft, the networks will begin evaluating their lineups for the upcoming season, with most hiring occurring in May and June. Other notable attendees included Dante Stallworth, Chris Johnson and John Abraham.
Sandy Nunez, vice president of talent management at NFL Media, said this year’s group stood out for the number of questions asked on day one and the improvements made between sessions. She added that contestants are given their tryout roles, which also aids in the judging process.
“There are a lot of variables – how did they prepare, what kind of questions did they ask or did they ask? I’ve heard this is a very dedicated group, asking very smart questions, which made me feel good because it means we’re picking the right people to come through,” she said.
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